5 Easy School Lunches

Nothing tells you that summer is O V E R more than the arrival of the school lunches.  In this week’s guest post, Danielle Smith shares her tips on ways to make school lunches easier!  Danielle and I met at BlogHer13 (at a cocktail party at midnight!) and we bonded immediately, so I was thrilled when she said she would do a guest post here on CloudMom.  Check out her great tips here, and for more on Danielle, see below.

5 Easy School LunchesThere are a million reasons I’m thrilled my small people are back in school: they need the routine (I need the routine), I love to watch them learn, our conversations at home as their little minds expand are richer, the juggle of school work, friends and competitive sports is one I actually enjoy in our home (call me crazy), I am more productive at work and quite honestly, I enjoy the quiet.

However, there is one thing that drives me simply crazy: school lunches.  We could be the family that ‘buys’ every day, but I’m not doing it.  I’m not religious about health foods, but I can recognize the pure lack of nutritional value in what is provided outside our home.  This means it is up to me (and them) to come up with something new and different every single day.  The mere prospect of it is enough to make my stomach hurt even before school starts each year.lunch-ideas-for-kids

In the past, I’ve been a ‘lazy lunch mom’… giving them the one thing they always requested – peanut butter sandwiches. I rationalized that it was a) what they wanted and b) it was easier on me – and sometimes easy is ok…. but this year I’ve made some changes to avoid the school lunch blues (for me and them).

How do you tackle school lunches?  Share your tips below!

School Lunch Ideas for Kids

Avoid Pinterest – I know, I know….. this sounds counterintuitive to everything we are being taught right now. Want inspiration? Head to Pinterest.  Not in this case.  For school lunches, you will only feel overwhelmed.  A simple search of ‘school lunches’ has the potential to make you feel like the most inadequate lunch mom on the planet.  You don’t need all organic, all cookie-cutter options to provide good options.

Ask your friends – I know I have a lot of friends on Pinterest, but I decided to opt for good, old-fashioned word of mouth. I asked other moms what they were feeding their kids. I did it in person and on Facebook and I was flooded with advice. Everything from Hawaiian Roll sandwiches to meat-wrapped cheese sticks to hummus and tortillas.

Get your kids involved – Have you ever asked your kids what they want?  Every day they sit next to Sarah who has the best lunch ever. And to Jacob who always gets….???  They would be happy to tell you.  Once I told my small people we were definitely going to be mixing things up, they started to offer suggestions constantly.

Think miniature – when you are a kid, everything small is fun.  You may want to invest in a bento box, but if not, small containers and baggies break up the monotony.

Make a list – we have a list on the fridge and the kids have to choose something from each category.  There are ‘healthy’ foods and desserts too.  This way, they have a say in their lunch AND you guarantee they are getting the good stuff in with the ‘fun’.  The mixing and matching helps everyone to be happy.

For a few examples of lunches we have put together in our home (with small people approval), take a look at this super helpful video: Quick and Easy Back to School Lunches.

Danielle Smith is a digital correspondent, host, storyteller, speaker, media trainer, vlogger and author.  She is the author of two books: the newly released Social Media Engagement for Dummies and before that, Mom, Incorporated – A Guide to Business + Baby. Danielle Smith photoIn her ‘free time’, she juggles work as the founder and primary author of ExtraordinaryMommy and DanielleSmithMedia as well as hosting and producing her lifestyle series Keeping Style in Your Life, creating original video content for well known sites Babble and SheKnows and producing Vlogging Tips for people looking to jump on camera.  She also travels around the country as both a seminar and keynote speaker.  Danielle lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and two children whom she affectionately refers to as her ‘small people’.